On another beautiful late summer evening – one in a string of perfect Goldilocks evenings, not too cool, not too hot, just right – the Charlotte Selectboard held a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Aug. 12.
And on this meteorologically romantic evening, the selectboard voted unanimously to allow a wedding at the Charlotte Town Beach on Sept. 8. But to reach approval, the decision had to weather a bit of a storm.
Bill Fraser-Harris, chair of the Recreation Commission, said it was a last-minute request that he had just learned of earlier that day, but that he was “very pleased that the beach would want to be used by something like a wedding. It’s actually something that recreation has explored for future potential revenue generation.”
The beach will officially be closed the week before the wedding but “with appropriate liaison” they would be happy to have a wedding at the beach, he said.
In response to questions from selectboard member Louise McCarren about whether the couple would mind members of the public around during the wedding, the bride-to-be, Rebekah Cory of Hinesburg, said they wouldn’t have any problem with that.
“We plan to make it as seamless as possible,” she said. “We would love for other people to be around.”
Selectboard Chair Matt Krasnow said, “I got married at Kingsland Bay State Park and they have a very similar policy where the park is still open to the public. It’s nice to have wedding crashing.”
“Yes!” Cory agreed.
Town beach wedding objections
Town Clerk Mary Mead’s initial objection to the wedding was liability issues.
“This seems like a small number of people,” Mead said. “Once you open the door for one wedding you open the door for many others. It’s a certain kind of quiet neighborhood down there.”
Krasnow said that the town already has a policy allowing events at the town beach and has developed a fee schedule for those events.
He remembered the selectboard talking in the past about how “it’s hard to distinguish between a wedding and a birthday party.”
Mead said that alcohol is a concern at a wedding, but it isn’t problem at a third or fourth grader’s birthday party.
“Well, alcohol is allowed at the beach at all times,” said Krasnow.
“Once you open the door, you’ve opened the door to somebody who wants to have a wedding party of 100 people and somebody who wants to have 150 people,” Mead said.
She said you’ve also opened the door to someone who wants to shoot off fireworks at their wedding or weddings with more vehicles than parking spaces.
“I hear your point, but the town has had an application for events for a very long time, for longer than I’ve been on the board,” Krasnow said. “The fee schedule has been in place since April 20, 2015. I don’t see us opening a door. This has been a door that’s been available to anyone to use for quite a while,”
Mead said that weddings are just a very different type of use of a venue.
“They’re very happy and celebrating,” she said. “And the beach has not really been used or set up for that kind of large event.”
Krasnow said that the application process allows the selectboard to look at events on a case-by-case basis and sometimes applications will be denied.
“Times have changed,” said Fraser-Harris. “The beach, I think, will become a much more popular venue for events … I think this is a wonderful start to having the beach be used as a public venue.”
• Tad Cooke representing Philo Ridge Farm requested that the selectboard give them approval for a first-class liquor license that would allow them to serve beer and wine in their farm restaurant.
In response to questions from selectboard member Frank Tenney, Cooke said that their restaurant license was for 40 seats and they have 40 seats inside in the restaurant, but they also have picnic tables outside.
“When the state authorized you to have a 40-seat restaurant, usually 40 seats includes all the seats for the restaurant, whether they’re internal or external,” Tenney said. “If that was the case, people would have a 10-seat restaurant and have 50 seats outside.”
The selectboard voted unanimously to allow on-site beer and wine sales at Philo Ridge Farm’s restaurant.
• Tom Cosinuke, the corporate board president of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, gave a report on the organization’s budget. He said that they were about 2 percent over in expenses for their annual budget of $783,000.
“But on the plus side our income exceeded our original expectation, for a couple of reasons. One is that we upgraded our ambulance capability, which brought in more revenue,” Cosinuke said. “The bottom line is we were over by about 2 percent which is around $16,000 but our income was up about 3 percent, so we have about a $6,000 surplus.”
Fire Chief Dick St. George said that he was giving the selectboard the same warning that he gives them every year that there are wage pressures affecting their ability to attract and keep employees. He mentioned a number of area communities that are paying fire and rescue personnel more than Charlotte.
• The selectboard unanimously passed a motion to continue its hearing on the proposed amendments to the Town Plan until its next meeting on Monday, Aug. 26. This will give the Charlotte Planning Commission an opportunity to consider its position on the amendments at its meeting, Thursday, Aug. 15.